While cleaning up my files, I came across this reply to a friend, who wanted to know when I thought the war in Iraq would end.
To me, Iraq is not a war - it is a battlefront in a larger war: The War of Facism-with-an-Islamic-face against Liberal Democracy. It is indeed a world war, which started with the Iranian Revolution and finally caught our attention with the 9/11 attacks.
It is true that the US chose to initiate Iraq as a battlefront, and also true that it was a bad idea to do so (as we can all see in retrospect). But even if we pull out of Iraq, the war will go on against us.
We keep thinking of war in terms of our own culture - jump into a war, fight it full time, get it over with and then get back to normal. Our way of war decends from ancient Greece, in which the soldier-citizens were farmers, and had to get the war over with in time to get back to their fields to avoid starvation.
The horse-riding nomads of the Eurasian steppe thought of war differently. For them, war was something you did part time. You could spend part of any day fighting, and the rest of the time you grazed your horses. There was no "getting it over with," because if there was no more war, then there was no more honor to be won. The Islamofacist style of war descends from that of the horse peoples of the steppe - you work at your job, spend time with your family, and help place a bomb when you have a spare evening.
In other words, there is no Greco-Western ending to this conflict. This is just a phase of Globalization. The Islamofacists fear that their women will become liberated by the influx of Western values, and are fighting it with everything they've got. Ergo, the war will be over when women everywhere actually become liberated. There will be no surrender, just nothing to fight over anymore.
Women are the key to victory. Weapons can at best perform holding actions.
I think we all need to take a more global and more long term perspective, before precipitously acting - either to fight more or to fight less. We need to choose our battles more carefully, and fight them less intensively - with more emphasis on social relations than on firefights.
On the day of the 9/11 attacks, one of my neighbors and I put up the Stars and Stripes in front of our houses, and agreed to keep displaying it until the war was over. I guess I'll be keeping it there for a while yet.